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Web Development: Front-End vs Back-End Development

September 9, 2022

Building a new website requires a broad set of skills including design, development and copywriting. It is unlikely that any single individual has all the skills necessary to build a successful website on their own.

That means they have to work with individuals with the skills required. When it comes to web development, these skills are broken down into front-end and back-end categories. While there are some similarities between them, they are very different skill sets.

So what is the difference between a front-end and a back-end developer? In this article, we’ll look at these two skill sets in more detail.

What is web development?

First, let’s look at what web development is. Say web development to anyone outside the industry and they will immediately assume they design web pages and spend most of their time in Photoshop.

But most web developers don’t touch the design of the page at all. That is the job of the web designer or user experience designer. A web developer writes the code that turns the static designs into a fully functioning website.

A pure web developer doesn’t need any design skills at all, although it does help to have a basic understanding of design. However, they do need to be able to write code and integrate technologies using APIs.

Front-end vs back-end developers

This brings us back to the next question. What is the difference between a front-end developer and a back-end developer? You may not realise it, but websites are split into two parts, the front-end, the bit you see, and the back-end, the database etc.

While they are similar, they require two different skill sets. Front-end developers focus on the front-end while back-end developers focus on the back-end. There is another type of developer that can do both. These uber-geeks are called full-stack developers.

Let’s look at each role in more detail to give you a better idea of what each of them does.

What is a front-end developer?

The front-end developer writes the markup and code that make up the individual web pages. This is what’s shown in your browser, and that is an important consideration. Front-end developers only write code that is run in the browser.

So when you go to a web page and see all those fancy transitions, that is the job of a front-end developer. If you buy something online and complete the checkout form, that is also the work of a front-end developer.

What skills does a front-end developer need?

A front-end developer needs excellent coding skills. Front-end development focuses on just three languages – HTML, CSS and JavaScript, so all front-end developers need extensive experience with these skills.

But front-end developers that build websites on Content Management Systems such as WordPress or shopping carts such as Shopify will need some knowledge of web application frameworks such as Ruby on Rails, and Laravel.

Front-end developers work as part of a team, so along with good coding skills, they also need good communication skills. But they also spend a lot of time working on their own, so they need to be good at motivating themselves and managing their workload.

Front-end development languages


Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the foundation of all websites. This is used to build out the structure of the page, including text blocks, images and font sizes.


Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are used to present information in the browser. Font styles, colours, borders and basic animations are all written in CSS.


JavaScript adds dynamic functionality to the page. When you click a button or complete a text field, JavaScript is working in the background.

What is a back-end developer?

Back-end developers write the code that allows the website to process data. These so-called server-side functions are split into three areas: application, server and database functions.

These processes run on the server, not in the browser. So when you access your online bank account through a browser, you are communicating with a back-end database. The interaction between the two interfaces is programmed by the back-end developer.

What skills does a back-end developer need?

Back-end developers require a different set of coding skills than front-end developers and because many apps are written on frameworks such as Ruby on Rails or Java, back-end developers need to have expert knowledge of these platforms as well.

And much like front-end developers, back-end developers work as part of a close-knit team, so they need excellent interpersonal and communication skills. Plus, they spend many hours working alone, so they must be able to manage their workload.

Back-end development languages


PHP is a popular general-purpose scripting language that is used to create dynamic web pages. WordPress and Facebook are both written in PHP.


Python is a high-level object-oriented scripting language. It is used to build applications, automate tasks and conduct data analysis.


.Net is an open-source cross-development platform that is used to build many different types of mobile and desktop applications.

Which type of web developer do you need?

Now you know the difference between front-end vs back-end developers, it should be obvious which one you need. A small project such as a basic website built on WordPress will require the services of a front-end developer. A more complex project such as a dedicated app or online store will require the services of a back-end developer.

If you need help with your next development project, get in touch with our web development team. We have experience in developing effective online web development solutions that deliver ROI. Be sure to take a look at our full range of services today.




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